'We can beat Brazil': North Korean striker
Most players would find making their World Cup debut against Brazil a daunting task but not North Korea striker Jong Tae Se.
The forward, whose North Korea side is making its first appearance at the tournament since 1966, on Tuesday even went so far as to state what most fans dismiss as one the greatest of long shots — that North Korea can beat five-time champion Brazil.
"We believe we can win against Brazil. Everybody thinks about that game," Jong said. "We can win that game."
The teams meet in their Group G opener at Ellis Park in Johannesburg next Tuesday. Portugal and Ivory Coast are also in a group that is arguably the tournament's hardest.
For the first time since arriving in South Africa on June 1, the media-shy North Koreans briefly allowed foreign journalists into their practice session at the Makhulong Stadium in the township of Tembisa, near Johannesburg.
Coach Kim Jong Hun's squad is an unknown quantity, but the manager will likely lean heavily on Jong, who plays for club side Kawasaki Frontale in Japan.
The 26-year-old striker has shown a knack for finding the back of the net, and scored North Korea's sole goal in the team's 3-1 loss to Nigeria on Sunday and netted two more in North Korea's 2-2 draw with Greece in a warmup match last week.
The team's strength, Jong said, lies with its toughness.
"Our team mentality is like Germany, Germany spirits," he said, calling them the strongest in the world.
North Korea pulled one of the biggest upsets in World Cup history at the country's last appearance in 1966, when it beat Italy 1-0 and earned a place in the quarter-finals.
Jong said he's looking to pull a similar feat in South Africa.
"I want to surprise again this World Cup," he said.